Program looks to give bees a leg (or six) up

Written by: Lisa Stelzner

Primary Source: Daily Dose of Science Blog

Our North American bees need a lot of help if they are to keep pollinating our crops.  Up to a third of honeybee colonies have been lost every year due to colony collapse disorder, and native bees (honeybees are not native here) have also been declining. Many non-honeybees are solitary and burrow in the soil or nest in hollow reeds or grasses.

The U.S. Government is starting a new program to support honeybees in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota, where up to 65% of the U.S.’s honeybees are raised in colonies before transporting them to crops across the country. Part of this program will encourage farmers to plant crops that can be used for forage for livestock and to feed bees, such as alfalfa and clover, and to practice rotation grazing using fenced pastures so some plants will recover for the bees.

In California, hedgerows are grown on the sides of farms and vineyards to provide vital bee habitat and allows the farmers to certify themselves as sustainable. This may not work well for corn or soybean farmers in the Midwest that use giant equipment, but with a decrease in crop prices, they may be willing to plant bee-friendly plants on the sides of their fields.

If you can’t tell different types of bees apart from honeybees, look at this blog.  The top line states what the insect actually is when news stories use an incorrect image and call it a honeybee.  It is very common for people to misidentify honey bees.

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Lisa Stelzner
I'm a plant biology PhD student studying monarch butterflies in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I am interested in how breeding monarch butterflies choose their habitat based on floral species richness and abundance. Few studies have been conducted on optimal foraging theory when it involves an organism searching for two different kinds of resources, and butterflies are an ideal study system to investigate this, since many species are ovipositing specialists and only lay eggs on one species of hostplant, but are feeding generalists and nectar from a broad variety of flowering forbs.